Dog Brothers Public Forum

HOME | PUBLIC FORUM | MEMBERS FORUM | INSTRUCTORS FORUM | TRIBE FORUM

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
February 25, 2018, 12:06:24 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Search:     Advanced search
Welcome to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
107521 Posts in 2406 Topics by 1095 Members
Latest Member: dannysamuel
* Home Help Search Login Register
  Show Posts
Pages: 1 2 [3] 4 5 ... 850
101  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Zero net growth of Islam in America on: February 18, 2018, 12:58:11 PM
https://clarionproject.org/pew-report-sees-zero-net-growth-muslims-us/
102  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / cdc-study-use-firearms-self-defense on: February 18, 2018, 12:51:49 PM
https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/cdc-study-use-firearms-self-defense-important-crime-deterrent
103  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kerry State Department approved the Russki trolls on: February 18, 2018, 12:02:49 AM
Don't know this site, but the dates do seem to lead to this conclusion:

https://patriotbeat.com/2018/02/17/john-kerrys-state-dept-approved-visas-muellers-13-russian-operatives/
104  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Bernie burned on: February 17, 2018, 11:59:49 PM
https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/16/bernie-sanders-russia-2016-election-interference-415691
105  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / This looks like an interesting history book on: February 17, 2018, 11:51:30 PM
https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0307958043/ref=nosim/nationalreviewon?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=180216_G-File&utm_term=GFile#customerReviews
106  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / She seems quite sharp on: February 17, 2018, 11:44:57 PM
https://steemit.com/anarchy/@thepholosopher/3-common-gun-control-myths-debunked
107  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media, Ministry of Truth Issues on: February 17, 2018, 11:21:23 PM
May I suggest that that is not the point but rather to set up a hue and cry for FB to become the arbiter of what is Fake News?  Hence my subject line of
"Setting Facebook up to be the Ministry of Truth".
108  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Awesome data site compares death rates from mass public shootings in US n Europe on: February 17, 2018, 07:25:24 PM
https://crimeresearch.org/2015/06/comparing-death-rates-from-mass-public-shootings-in-the-us-and-europe/
109  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Setting Facebook up to be the Ministry of Truth? on: February 17, 2018, 03:56:57 PM
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/17/technology/indictment-russian-tech-facebook.html?emc=edit_ta_20180217&nl=top-stories&nlid=49641193&ref=cta

To Stir Discord in 2016, Russians Turned Most Often to Facebook

By SHEERA FRENKEL and KATIE BENNERFEB. 17, 2018

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, faces renewed questions about why the social network didn’t catch the Russian activity earlier or do more to stop it. Credit Eric Risberg/Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — In 2014, Russians working for a shadowy firm called the Internet Research Agency started gathering American followers in online groups focused on issues like religion and immigration. Around mid-2015, the Russians began buying digital ads to spread their messages. A year later, they tapped their followers to help organize political rallies across the United States.

Their digital instrument of choice for all of these actions? Facebook and its photo-sharing site Instagram.

The social network, more than any other technology tool, was singled out on Friday by the Justice Department when prosecutors charged 13 Russians and three companies for executing a scheme to subvert the 2016 election and support Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign. In a 37-page indictment, officials detailed how the Russians repeatedly turned to Facebook and Instagram, often using stolen identities to pose as Americans, to sow discord among the electorate by creating Facebook groups, distributing divisive ads and posting inflammatory images.

While the indictment does not accuse Facebook of any wrongdoing, it provided the first comprehensive account from the authorities of how critical the company’s platforms had been to the Russian campaign to disrupt the 2016 election. Facebook and Instagram were mentioned 41 times, while other technology that the Russians used were featured far less. Twitter was referenced nine times, YouTube once, and electronic payments company PayPal 11 times.

It is unprecedented for an American technology company to be so central to what the authorities say was a foreign scheme to commit election fraud in the United States. The indictment further batters Facebook’s image after it has spent months grappling with questions about how it was misused and why it did not act earlier to prevent that activity.

Jonathan Albright, research director at Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism, said the indictment laid bare how effectively Facebook could be turned against the country.


“Facebook built incredibly effective tools which let Russia profile citizens here in the U.S. and figure out how to manipulate us,” Mr. Albright said. “Facebook, essentially, gave them everything they needed.” He added that many of the tools that the Russians used, including those that allow ads to be targeted and that show how widespread an ad becomes, still pervade Facebook.

Facebook, with more than two billion members on the social network alone, has long struggled with what its sites show and the kind of illicit activity it may enable, from selling unlicensed guns to broadcasting live killings. The company’s business depends on people being highly engaged with what is posted on its sites, which in turn helps make it a marquee destination for advertisers.

When suggestions first arose after the 2016 election that Facebook may have influenced the outcome, Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive, dismissed the concerns. But by last September, Facebook had disclosed that the Internet Research Agency had bought divisive ads on hot-button issues through the company. It later said 150 million Americans had seen the Russian propaganda on the social network and Instagram.

The resulting firestorm has damaged Facebook’s reputation. Company officials, along with executives from Google and YouTube, were grilled by lawmakers last fall. Facebook has since hired thousands of people to help monitor content and has worked with Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel leading the investigation into Russian election interference. It has also changed its advertising policy so that any ad that mentions a candidate’s name goes through a more stringent vetting process. Mr. Zuckerberg has vowed to not let Facebook be abused by bad actors.

Yet Facebook’s multiple mentions in Friday’s indictment renew questions of why the world’s biggest social media company didn’t catch the Russian activity earlier or do more to stop it. How effective the company’s new efforts to reduce foreign manipulation have been is also unclear.

Rob Goldman, Facebook’s vice president of advertising, waded into the discussion on Friday with a series of tweets that argued that Russia’s goal was to sow chaos among the electorate rather than to force a certain outcome in the election. On Saturday, President Trump cited those tweets as evidence that Russia’s disinformation campaign was not aimed at handing him a victory.

In Silicon Valley, where Facebook has its headquarters, some critics pilloried the company after the indictment became public.


“Mueller’s indictment underscores the central role of Facebook and other platforms in the Russian interference in 2016,” said Roger McNamee, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who had invested early in Facebook. “In its heyday, television brought the country together, giving viewers a shared set of facts and experiences. Facebook does just the opposite, enabling every user to have a unique set of facts, driving the country apart for profit.”

Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president of global policy, said in a statement that the company was grateful the government was taking action “against those who abused our service and exploited the openness of our democratic process.”

He added that Facebook was working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation ahead of this year’s midterm elections to ensure that a similar manipulation campaign would not take place. “We know we have more to do to prevent against future attacks,” he said.

Facebook has previously questioned whether law enforcement should be more involved in helping to stop the threat from nation state actors. Facebook said it worked closely with the special counsel’s investigation.

YouTube did not respond to a request for comment, while Twitter declined to comment. PayPal said in a statement that it has worked closely with law enforcement and “is intensely focused on combating and preventing the illicit use of our services.”

According to the indictment, the Internet Research Agency, created in 2014 in St. Petersburg and employing about 80 people, was given the job of interfering with elections and political processes.

The group began using American social media to achieve those aims in 2014, when it started making Facebook pages dedicated to social issues like race and religion. Over the next two years, the indictment said, the Russians stole the identities of real Americans to create fake personas and fake accounts on social media. The group then used those to populate and promote Facebook pages like United Muslims of America, Blacktivist and Secured Borders.
110  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gatestone Institute: Iran, Russia, and China's Role in Venezuela Crisis on: February 17, 2018, 01:14:12 PM


Iran, Russia, and China's Central Role in the Venezuela Crisis
by Joseph M. Humire
Gatestone Institute
February 14, 2018
http://www.meforum.org/7206/iran-russia-and-china-central-role-in
Share:   

, , ,

Strong evidence suggests that Venezuela used its immigration agency (SAIME) to provide Venezuelan identities and documents to several hundred, if not thousands, of Middle Easterners. Unless our regional allies have proper vetting and verification measures in place, as well as a high degree of counterintelligence support, they will not know if the Venezuelan refugees spilling across their borders are legitimate refugees or members of a transregional clandestine network between Latin America and the Middle East.

As Secretary Tillerson calls upon regional allies to increase support to resolve Venezuela's humanitarian crisis and apply more pressure to the Maduro regime, it would also make sense for the Trump administration to help U.S. allies by enhancing their counterintelligence and counterterrorism capabilities against Iran and Hezbollah in the Western Hemisphere. It appears that some of this cooperation is already beginning to take place, as evidenced by a new agreement between the U.S. and Argentina to tackle Hezbollah's illicit financing in the Southern Cone.
111  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Gatestone Institute: Iran, Russia, and China's Role in Venezuela Crisis on: February 17, 2018, 01:13:01 PM


Iran, Russia, and China's Central Role in the Venezuela Crisis
by Joseph M. Humire
Gatestone Institute
February 14, 2018
http://www.meforum.org/7206/iran-russia-and-china-central-role-in
Share:   

 U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson just completed, by most accounts, a successful visit to Latin America. He began his five-nation tour by invoking the Monroe Doctrine and suggesting the Venezuelan military could manage a "peaceful transition" from the authoritarian leader Nicolás Maduro. This reminded several regional observers of President Trump's suggestion last year of a possible "military option" for Venezuela, hinting at possible U.S. or multilateral intervention to stop the country's collapse.
Any party in the Western Hemisphere seeking to undertake military intervention in Venezuela— including Venezuela's own military—must take into account the role Iran, Russia and China have played in the crisis. Russia and China were prominently mentioned by Tillerson during his visit to the region; Iran, however, was notably absent from his remarks.

Most regional analysts will likely agree that Venezuela has become a Cuban-occupied country. With more than 30,000 Cubans embedded in Venezuela, many of whom are part of the intelligence and security apparatus, it's clear that the Castro brothers played an integral role in the country's collapse. However, this narrative of Cuban intervention misses two key points. First, it fails to identify precisely Cuba's role in Venezuela, and, secondly, it ignores the presence and influence of other key extra-regional actors.

External support from China, Russia, and Cuba has contributed significantly to propping up the Venezuelan government during the last decade.

Of these, Russia and China are perhaps the two most visible. As in Syria, and, historically, in Central America, Russia is the primary supplier of military aidand technical support to the Venezuelan armed forces. Venezuela represents 75% of Russia's total foreign military sales in the region, accounting for more than $11 billion in arms sales.

Additionally, the Russian state-owned energy firm, Rosneft, has provided Venezuela with an estimated $17 billion in financing since 2006. Moscow has leveraged its collateral deals to acquire expanded stakes in Venezuela's oilfields—specifically, the heavy-crude Orinoco belt—providing Russia greater control of Venezuela's strategic energy assets.
Russia is not alone in translating Venezuelan debt into strategic assets. According to the International Institute of Finance, China holds more than $23 billion in Venezuela's foreign debt, making it the country's largest creditor. Through these credits and loans, Beijing is the primary benefactor and principal banker to the South American nation, yielding enormous leverage over the state.

Chinese energy companies are also gaining an increasing share of Venezuela's most lucrative oil field, the Faja Del Orinoco (FDO). China secured a 25-year land grant to the FDO. In exchange, China has used its checkbook to fund many of the nation's social programs, such as subsidized housing and free medical clinics.
 
Pictured: Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro visits Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Iran on October 22, 2016.

External support from China, Russia, and Cuba has buoyed the Venezuelan government during the last decade. Cuba's robust counterintelligence and human intelligence networks, which permeate Venezuela's highest political and military levels, are indispensable to China and Russia because of their operational knowledge of Russian-supplied equipment, along with their longstanding ties to communist clandestine networks.

In this context, it is hard to imagine a strategy that would remove Havana's presence from Venezuela without first passing through Moscow or Beijing. Iran, on the other hand, can operate independently in Venezuela because it taps into a separate, more robust clandestine network that has been developing in Latin America for more than half a century.

Approximately 60% of the population of the city of As-Suwayda in southwestern Syria (pop. 139,000, according to the 2004 census) are Venezuelan-born dual citizens. Many more have arrived since 2009. The district of As-Suwayda (same name as the city) has been dubbed "Little Venezuela." Estimates indicate that upwards of 300,000 Syrians from the As-Suwayda Governorate currently live halfway around the world in Venezuela. According to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, more than a million Syrians reside there. This Syria-Venezuela connection could represent a clandestine network managed by Iran and critical to the advancement of Chavez's "Bolivarian revolution."

As in the Syria conflict, Iran's primarily role is preparing the Venezuelan battlefield through a range of operations in irregular warfare, using non-state actors and surrogates to gain influence over the population. Its influence is often not visible on the ground, but it was evident when Iranian-trained forces helped repress anti-regime protestors in 2017. During anti-Maduro demonstrations, the motorcycle-riding members of the Venezuelan civilian militias known as Collectivos were clearly modeled on and trained by Iran's paramilitary Basij militia. The role of the Basij in crushing Iran's Green Revolution in 2009 provided lesson for dealing with anti-regime protestors half a decade later in Venezuela.

Strong evidence suggests that Venezuela used its immigration agency (SAIME) to provide Venezuelan identities and documents to several hundred, if not thousands, of Middle Easterners.

The extent of Iran's influence in Venezuela has long been a source of debate among U.S. and regional security analysts. In many ways, Iran has positioned itself in Venezuela to capitalize on China's economic clout and Russia's military footprint. For instance, Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) used a variety of joint projects with Venezuela's military industry (CAVIM), as well as Russian and Chinese oil contracts with PDVSA, to shield it from international sanctions.
Iran's most salient expertise, however, is in the development of clandestine structures through surrogate forces and proxy networks. Its most prominent proxy force, Lebanese Hezbollah, is known to deploy to global hotspots on behalf of Iran. Meanwhile, the Qods Force (the extra-territorial arm of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps - IRGC) works with Hezbollah to increase social pressure in these hotspots to exacerbate conflicts. The Hezbollah and IRGC-QF cooperation is an important component of the Syrian civil war.

In Venezuela, long-standing clandestine networks from Syria, Lebanon and the Middle East are playing a similar role behind the scenes in shaping the narrative and ultimately directing the actions of the country's key players. These networks have provided the Venezuelan regime with the know-how to control the population and propagate its narrative. Their influence is evident from the prominence of Arabs in the Venezuelan government.
 
Protesters have taken to Venezuela's streets to condemn unprecedented levels of oppression.

The humanitarian crisis in Venezuela began with severe shortages of food and medicine, prompting a a popular uprising last year. Syria faced a similarly severe drought before its civil war that contributed to the violent uprisings that began in 2011. As in Syria, Venezuela faces a humanitarian crisis that exacerbates refugee outflows with serious counterterrorism concerns and a strong Russian and Iranian presence. Unlike Syria, however, this crisis rests much closer to U.S. shores.

Strong evidence suggests that Venezuela used its immigration agency (SAIME) to provide Venezuelan identities and documents to several hundred, if not thousands, of Middle Easterners. Unless our regional allies have proper vetting and verification measures in place, as well as a high degree of counterintelligence support, they will not know if the Venezuelan refugees spilling across their borders are legitimate refugees or members of a transregional clandestine network between Latin America and the Middle East.

As Secretary Tillerson calls upon regional allies to increase support to resolve Venezuela's humanitarian crisis and apply more pressure to the Maduro regime, it would also make sense for the Trump administration to help U.S. allies by enhancing their counterintelligence and counterterrorism capabilities against Iran and Hezbollah in the Western Hemisphere. It appears that some of this cooperation is already beginning to take place, as evidenced by a new agreement between the U.S. and Argentina to tackle Hezbollah's illicit financing in the Southern Cone.

Dealing with the tragedy that has transpired in Venezuela over more than two decades will require a better public understanding of the central role of extra-regional actors, particularly Iran, in the country's crisis.

Any intervention in Venezuela -- military, humanitarian or otherwise -- will not work unless it is aimed at removing the external influences, especially Iran, Russia and China, that have turned Venezuela into the Syria of the Western Hemisphere.

Joseph M. Humire is the executive director of the Center for a Secure Free Society (SFS) and a fellow at the Middle East Forum. This article has taken excerpts from a forthcoming special report by Mr. Humire on "Venezuela's Crisis: A New Global Paradigm." You can follow him on Twitter at: @jmhumire.
Related Topics:  Joseph M. Humire
112  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gatestone Institute: Iran, Russia, and China's Role in Venezuela Crisis on: February 17, 2018, 01:12:17 PM
 




Iran, Russia, and China's Central Role in the Venezuela Crisis
by Joseph M. Humire
Gatestone Institute
February 14, 2018
http://www.meforum.org/7206/iran-russia-and-china-central-role-in
Share:   

 U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson just completed, by most accounts, a successful visit to Latin America. He began his five-nation tour by invoking the Monroe Doctrine and suggesting the Venezuelan military could manage a "peaceful transition" from the authoritarian leader Nicolás Maduro. This reminded several regional observers of President Trump's suggestion last year of a possible "military option" for Venezuela, hinting at possible U.S. or multilateral intervention to stop the country's collapse.
Any party in the Western Hemisphere seeking to undertake military intervention in Venezuela— including Venezuela's own military—must take into account the role Iran, Russia and China have played in the crisis. Russia and China were prominently mentioned by Tillerson during his visit to the region; Iran, however, was notably absent from his remarks.

Most regional analysts will likely agree that Venezuela has become a Cuban-occupied country. With more than 30,000 Cubans embedded in Venezuela, many of whom are part of the intelligence and security apparatus, it's clear that the Castro brothers played an integral role in the country's collapse. However, this narrative of Cuban intervention misses two key points. First, it fails to identify precisely Cuba's role in Venezuela, and, secondly, it ignores the presence and influence of other key extra-regional actors.

External support from China, Russia, and Cuba has contributed significantly to propping up the Venezuelan government during the last decade.

Of these, Russia and China are perhaps the two most visible. As in Syria, and, historically, in Central America, Russia is the primary supplier of military aidand technical support to the Venezuelan armed forces. Venezuela represents 75% of Russia's total foreign military sales in the region, accounting for more than $11 billion in arms sales.

Additionally, the Russian state-owned energy firm, Rosneft, has provided Venezuela with an estimated $17 billion in financing since 2006. Moscow has leveraged its collateral deals to acquire expanded stakes in Venezuela's oilfields—specifically, the heavy-crude Orinoco belt—providing Russia greater control of Venezuela's strategic energy assets.
Russia is not alone in translating Venezuelan debt into strategic assets. According to the International Institute of Finance, China holds more than $23 billion in Venezuela's foreign debt, making it the country's largest creditor. Through these credits and loans, Beijing is the primary benefactor and principal banker to the South American nation, yielding enormous leverage over the state.

Chinese energy companies are also gaining an increasing share of Venezuela's most lucrative oil field, the Faja Del Orinoco (FDO). China secured a 25-year land grant to the FDO. In exchange, China has used its checkbook to fund many of the nation's social programs, such as subsidized housing and free medical clinics.
 
Pictured: Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro visits Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Iran on October 22, 2016.

External support from China, Russia, and Cuba has buoyed the Venezuelan government during the last decade. Cuba's robust counterintelligence and human intelligence networks, which permeate Venezuela's highest political and military levels, are indispensable to China and Russia because of their operational knowledge of Russian-supplied equipment, along with their longstanding ties to communist clandestine networks.

In this context, it is hard to imagine a strategy that would remove Havana's presence from Venezuela without first passing through Moscow or Beijing. Iran, on the other hand, can operate independently in Venezuela because it taps into a separate, more robust clandestine network that has been developing in Latin America for more than half a century.

Approximately 60% of the population of the city of As-Suwayda in southwestern Syria (pop. 139,000, according to the 2004 census) are Venezuelan-born dual citizens. Many more have arrived since 2009. The district of As-Suwayda (same name as the city) has been dubbed "Little Venezuela." Estimates indicate that upwards of 300,000 Syrians from the As-Suwayda Governorate currently live halfway around the world in Venezuela. According to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, more than a million Syrians reside there. This Syria-Venezuela connection could represent a clandestine network managed by Iran and critical to the advancement of Chavez's "Bolivarian revolution."

As in the Syria conflict, Iran's primarily role is preparing the Venezuelan battlefield through a range of operations in irregular warfare, using non-state actors and surrogates to gain influence over the population. Its influence is often not visible on the ground, but it was evident when Iranian-trained forces helped repress anti-regime protestors in 2017. During anti-Maduro demonstrations, the motorcycle-riding members of the Venezuelan civilian militias known as Collectivos were clearly modeled on and trained by Iran's paramilitary Basij militia. The role of the Basij in crushing Iran's Green Revolution in 2009 provided lesson for dealing with anti-regime protestors half a decade later in Venezuela.

Strong evidence suggests that Venezuela used its immigration agency (SAIME) to provide Venezuelan identities and documents to several hundred, if not thousands, of Middle Easterners.

The extent of Iran's influence in Venezuela has long been a source of debate among U.S. and regional security analysts. In many ways, Iran has positioned itself in Venezuela to capitalize on China's economic clout and Russia's military footprint. For instance, Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) used a variety of joint projects with Venezuela's military industry (CAVIM), as well as Russian and Chinese oil contracts with PDVSA, to shield it from international sanctions.
Iran's most salient expertise, however, is in the development of clandestine structures through surrogate forces and proxy networks. Its most prominent proxy force, Lebanese Hezbollah, is known to deploy to global hotspots on behalf of Iran. Meanwhile, the Qods Force (the extra-territorial arm of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps - IRGC) works with Hezbollah to increase social pressure in these hotspots to exacerbate conflicts. The Hezbollah and IRGC-QF cooperation is an important component of the Syrian civil war.

In Venezuela, long-standing clandestine networks from Syria, Lebanon and the Middle East are playing a similar role behind the scenes in shaping the narrative and ultimately directing the actions of the country's key players. These networks have provided the Venezuelan regime with the know-how to control the population and propagate its narrative. Their influence is evident from the prominence of Arabs in the Venezuelan government.
 
Protesters have taken to Venezuela's streets to condemn unprecedented levels of oppression.

The humanitarian crisis in Venezuela began with severe shortages of food and medicine, prompting a a popular uprising last year. Syria faced a similarly severe drought before its civil war that contributed to the violent uprisings that began in 2011. As in Syria, Venezuela faces a humanitarian crisis that exacerbates refugee outflows with serious counterterrorism concerns and a strong Russian and Iranian presence. Unlike Syria, however, this crisis rests much closer to U.S. shores.

Strong evidence suggests that Venezuela used its immigration agency (SAIME) to provide Venezuelan identities and documents to several hundred, if not thousands, of Middle Easterners. Unless our regional allies have proper vetting and verification measures in place, as well as a high degree of counterintelligence support, they will not know if the Venezuelan refugees spilling across their borders are legitimate refugees or members of a transregional clandestine network between Latin America and the Middle East.

As Secretary Tillerson calls upon regional allies to increase support to resolve Venezuela's humanitarian crisis and apply more pressure to the Maduro regime, it would also make sense for the Trump administration to help U.S. allies by enhancing their counterintelligence and counterterrorism capabilities against Iran and Hezbollah in the Western Hemisphere. It appears that some of this cooperation is already beginning to take place, as evidenced by a new agreement between the U.S. and Argentina to tackle Hezbollah's illicit financing in the Southern Cone.

Dealing with the tragedy that has transpired in Venezuela over more than two decades will require a better public understanding of the central role of extra-regional actors, particularly Iran, in the country's crisis.

Any intervention in Venezuela -- military, humanitarian or otherwise -- will not work unless it is aimed at removing the external influences, especially Iran, Russia and China, that have turned Venezuela into the Syria of the Western Hemisphere.

Joseph M. Humire is the executive director of the Center for a Secure Free Society (SFS) and a fellow at the Middle East Forum. This article has taken excerpts from a forthcoming special report by Mr. Humire on "Venezuela's Crisis: A New Global Paradigm." You can follow him on Twitter at: @jmhumire.
Related Topics:  Joseph M. Humire



113  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Jonah Goldberg: The People We Deserve on: February 17, 2018, 09:36:30 AM

http://www.nationalreview.com/g-file/456513/virtue-democracy-people-we-deserve?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=180216_G-File&utm_term=GFile
114  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Another 500,000 reads thread! on: February 17, 2018, 09:35:05 AM
500,000 reads on our Israel thread!!!

Well done gentlemen!!!
115  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Environmental issues on: February 17, 2018, 09:23:33 AM
No, it was a matter of not contributing to the problem.
116  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Ten Rivers Generate Most of Plastic in Oceans on: February 17, 2018, 08:58:39 AM
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4970214/95-plastic-oceans-comes-just-TEN-rivers.html
117  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israeli approach on: February 17, 2018, 12:48:43 AM
https://townhall.com/columnists/lawrencemeyers/2018/02/15/president-trump-have-education-department-mandate-active-shooter-protocols-n2449726
118  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gov. Brown signs bill ending mandatory penalty for gun use in crime on: February 16, 2018, 11:54:06 PM
It would appear Breitbart continues with dishonest headlines , , ,

http://www.breitbart.com/california/2017/10/30/gov-jerry-brown-signs-bill-removing-penalty-using-gun-crime/
119  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SAudis about to back Shia Kurd media? on: February 16, 2018, 11:51:30 PM
In its quest to counter Iranian influence, Saudi Arabia is hoping to use its financial clout to turn the tide on a different sort of battlefield. According to Iraqi media sources, behind the scenes talks in the Kurdistan region of Iraq have led Saudi Arabia to offer $10 million to support the Shiite TV station Al Forat. Further reports indicate that media personnel from the station were sent to Saudi media offices in the United Arab Emirates for training. Though the reports haven't been confirmed by Saudi or Emirati sources, Al Forat recently announced that it has upgraded its channel to air in high definition and that its app will soon support IOS and Android devices. It may not be a complete confirmation, but the new upgrades suggest the channel has indeed acquired more funding.

If the reports are true, it would be a clear effort from powerful Sunni Arab Gulf states to support Iraqi media that could counter Iranian influence in Iraq. More than that, it would mark an effort by Saudi Arabia to increase its influence with Iraqis, regardless of sectarian affiliation. A well-known media station in Iraq, Al Forat is owned by Shiite cleric and political leader Ammar al-Hakim. However, Hakim's political party, the National Wisdom party, has denied reports of Saudi funding for the TV station.

Hakim is a logical personality for Saudi Arabia to connect with in Iraq. A member of a prominent family of Shiite clerics, Hakim maintains significant popularity. In addition, he split from the Iran-linked Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq last fall to form his own political movement with greater independence from Iran. Although he is Shiite, Hakim still ticks a lot of boxes for the Sunni Arab Gulf states. It's not guaranteed that he and his network have received their backing, but Hakim and Al Forat are exactly the sort of influential voices that it would make sense for Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies to support.
120  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Clarion Project: Hezbollah has 500,000 rockets! on: February 16, 2018, 11:50:17 PM
https://clarionproject.org/terrorist-organization-500000-rockets/
121  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GVRO proposal on: February 16, 2018, 11:42:24 PM
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/456510/gun-control-republicans-consider-grvo?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NR%20Daily%20Monday%20through%20Friday%202018-02-16&utm_term=NR5PM%20Actives
122  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: President Trump on: February 16, 2018, 09:10:07 PM
Bonus points-- Who said that and about whom?
123  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Grassley about to get greased? on: February 16, 2018, 07:41:05 PM
http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2018/02/16/sen-chuck-grassley-folds-open-gun-control-discussion-post-parkland-attack/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=daily&utm_content=links&utm_campaign=20180216
124  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Russian conspiracy, Comey, related matters on: February 16, 2018, 07:30:10 PM
"Should Israel indict Brock for interfering with Netanyahu's election?"

GOOD ONE!
125  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mattis kills up to 200 Russians in Syria on: February 16, 2018, 07:29:19 PM
https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-02-16/russia-attacked-u-s-troops-in-syria
126  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mattis kills up to 200 Russians on: February 16, 2018, 07:28:36 PM
https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-02-16/russia-attacked-u-s-troops-in-syria
127  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sly Dumb Fox Gen. James N. Mattis on: February 16, 2018, 07:27:49 PM
https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-02-16/russia-attacked-u-s-troops-in-syria
128  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 1927 bombing biggest school bombing on record on: February 16, 2018, 07:19:23 PM
fifth post

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/1927-bombing-remains-americas-deadliest-school-massacre-180963355/
129  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sheriff sides with illegals rather than get body armor for deputies on: February 16, 2018, 07:14:36 PM
https://www.themaven.net/bluelivesmatter/news/to-avoid-cooperating-with-ice-sheriff-rejects-body-armor-for-deputies-VforcPchO0aa7CTOT5Falg?full=1
130  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / China 2014 mass kill by knife on: February 16, 2018, 07:05:32 PM
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/33-dead-130-injured-china-knife-wielding-spree-n41966
131  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: When the excrement hits the fan, mass killings, etc on: February 16, 2018, 07:04:56 PM
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/33-dead-130-injured-china-knife-wielding-spree-n41966
132  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: When the excrement hits the fan, mass killings, etc on: February 16, 2018, 06:49:43 PM
And it must be said and not without reason, that we also worry about empowering the nanny state to use this sort of stuff as part of their mission to disarm the American people.  Remember the campaign to draw equivalence in extremism between Islamo-fascism and the Tea Party?
133  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: President Trump on: February 16, 2018, 06:46:53 PM
Not to mention grifting operations like Trump University, bullying that little old lady in Atlantic City with eminent domain, and a reputation for stiffing contractors.
134  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: Trump-AG Sessions vs. MS-13 on: February 16, 2018, 06:45:00 PM
    U.S. President Donald Trump's administration will press for more aggressive action from Central American governments against criminal gangs, drug trafficking and illegal migration.
    Institutional inertia, competing priorities and the decentralized nature of criminal gangs are going to limit the White House's ability to come down hard on security threats from Central America.
    The administration will probably press Central American governments to pursue individual criminal groups more, but the way Washington deals with crime from Central America overall is unlikely to change.

As U.S. President Donald Trump's administration moves to take a harder line against crime in Central America, it will likely run into the same problems that have vexed many previous presidents. On the campaign trail, Trump emphasized domestic security and indicated that illegal immigrants and criminal gangs from Central America would get more attention from law enforcement. As president, he has already followed through on some of these campaign promises domestically. Now, the White House appears to be shifting its attention abroad. But as Washington turns up the heat on Central America, it is likely to find its goals thwarted by poverty, corruption and the amorphous nature of gangs.
Forecast Update

The United States has for decades focused on stemming violent crime and illicit migration from Central America. U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has made countering criminal activity from this region a central part of its foreign and domestic security policies, and it will press forward in the coming years to craft a more aggressive stance toward violent crime and illegal migration in the region.
See 2018 Annual Forecast
Spotlight on Central America

Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador — where many illegal migrants and criminal gang members in the United States are from — are in the spotlight as the Trump administration turns up the pressure. And the president has pointed to violent criminal gangs, particularly MS-13 (ethnically Salvadoran but born in Los Angeles--MARC not just ethnically, in citizenship too), in its drive to tighten immigration. Over the next few years, U.S. institutions such as the State Department, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security will try to turn Trump's campaign rhetoric into actions that hit criminal groups or weaken the flow of drugs to the United States. Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez recently met with a U.S. State Department official in what was likely an attempt to find an actionable policy. And the United States can be expected to pressure the governments in Tegucigalpa, Guatemala City and San Salvador to target and arrest key criminals, as well as to enact more substantial programs to detect and slow migrants trying to cross into Mexico.

However, pressing for change and achieving it are two very different things. For decades, these Central American nations haven't been able to effectively move against these problems, which also vex the United States. The countries are poor, with small and extremely corrupt armies and police forces. The local institutions that the United States has to work with are limited and are not going to improve quickly. Training enough capable and trustworthy soldiers and police officers to challenge the cartels and gangs and to stem migrant flows will take years — and the Trump administration simply may not have enough time to fund these improvements.

Additionally, criminal activity in Central America is of relatively low importance for Washington compared with other pressing global problems, a fact that may delay further action. Criminal gangs are but one of many forms of violent crime within the United States, and illegal migration is far lower than it was a few decades ago. Furthermore, while drug trafficking to the United States is a public health issue, it isn't an existential crisis. A solution to the North Korean nuclear crisis is far more consequential for the United States than reining in MS-13, the 18th Street gang and similar criminals.

Decentralization is also likely to frustrate Washington's moves against threats south of the border, since there is no single group it can target to end the criminal threat from Central America. Gangs tend to be decentralized, so while authorities can round up their members, other factions will take their place. The same can be said of Mexican and Central American drug trafficking cartels, which have fragmented into smaller, more violent units as their leaders have been arrested or killed.
Turning to Mexico

While Washington faces formidable regional obstacles, not all of its goals are out of sight. Its successes will be small, and the United States will continue to rely primarily on Mexico to stem the flow of drugs and migrants northward. Mexico has an institutional capability that all Central American states lack, and that isn't going to change in the next few years. The administration can press for its Central American neighbors to take more aggressive action against criminal gangs, migration and drug traffickers — and that is likely where the U.S. push in Central America is going to go.

The security concerns the Trump administration is emphasizing are perennial, intractable issues that Washington's institutional bureaucracy cannot deal with conclusively. Their rather low importance, accompanied by institutional inertia, is going to limit the White House's ability to devote more time and resources to them.

In the end, the administration is probably going to respond to criminality from Central America with tactics reminiscent of measures that have already been tried. Mexico will shoulder most of the burden of helping the United States deal with security problems in its backyard. Though the administration will try to craft a response different from those of its predecessors, it will most likely resort to more of the same.
135  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: When the excrement hits the fan, mass killings, etc on: February 16, 2018, 04:18:12 PM
YES.

Let's use this thread for discussion of these issues.
136  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: President Trump on: February 16, 2018, 04:15:56 PM
AGREED.
137  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary intervened to let this man into US on: February 16, 2018, 04:14:43 PM
https://www.westernjournal.com/dick-morris-humas-influence-hillary-let-islamic-scholar-now-charged-with-rape-into-the-us/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=deepsix&utm_content=2018-02-16&utm_campaign=can

Dick Morris: Huma’s Influence? Hillary Let Islamic Scholar Now Charged with Rape into the US

By Dick Morris
February 16, 2018 at 12:34pm
Share on Facebook Tweet Email Print

In 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reversed a decision by the Bush administration and allowed Tariq Ramadan, a world-famous Islamic scholar who donated to a terrorist front group, into the United States.

CNS reported that two weeks ago, Ramadan was arrested in Paris and charged with the rape of two Muslim women, one of whom had been disabled in a car accident, forcing her to use a crutch to walk.

Ramadan, something of a celebrity in the Muslim world, was a professor of contemporary Islamic studies at St. Anthony’s College in Oxford, U.K. His grandfather, Hassan al-Banna, was the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Advertisement – story continues below

The ban imposed by the Bush administration was a cause célèbre in the Islamic world.

Question: Did Huma Abedin, Hillary’s closest adviser, play a role in Clinton’s unjustifiable decision to lift the ban on Ramadan’s ability to travel to the U.S.? Was Hillary trying to please Huma?

TRENDING: FBI Was Warned About the Florida School Shooter Last Year in Comments Section of a YouTube Video

Abedin had to have known all about Ramadan. Her connection with the Muslim Brotherhood runs deep.

Huma’s father founded the Institute for Muslim Minority Affairs, an institution established by the government of Saudi Arabia with the support of the Muslim World League. Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy said the Muslim World League is “perhaps the most significant Muslim Brotherhood organization in the world.”

Advertisement – story continues below

Tariq Ramadan was barred as a security threat from entering the U.S. in 2006 by the State Department for “providing material support to a terrorist organization.” Specifically, he was found to have donated funds to a supposed charity that was really — and quite openly — a front for Hamas.

He was arrested in Paris for raping two Muslim women.


A Swiss newspaper also reported that Ramadan tried to seduce a 14-year-old student in his class and noted that three other female students have said that Ramadan seduced them.

Despite his record, Hillary reversed administration policy and lifted the ban on his travel to the U.S. Judicial Watch, the conservative watchdog group, says that Ramadan “openly supports the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas” and has done work for Iran.

The New York Times wrote that “the women’s accusations have put a dent in his (Ramadan’s) projected image as a pious family man.”

The decision to revoke the ban on Ramadan came in the form of an order personally signed by Secretary Clinton, saying that she was acting “as a matter of discretion.”

Ramadan has been a host on an Iranian television talk show “Islam and Life.”  He was employed by the Dutch city of Rotterdam as an adviser on “integration,” but was terminated because of his role on Iranian television.

That Hillary Clinton used her “discretion” to let him into the United States speaks volumes about her own lack of “discretion” and may give us a clue to Huma Abedin’s ability to get Hillary to do what she wanted.
138  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tangent to the Mueller indictment on: February 16, 2018, 04:06:19 PM
A friend writes:

"Mueller indictment, 2 of the Russians were able to enter U.S. on travel visas which they received after applying for them through the State Dept in 2014. From June 4, 2014 – June 26, 2014 they traveled around the US. Who was head of the FBI & State Dept at this time again?"

IIRC there are a number of queer Hillary grants of visas-- anyone remember what they were?

For example:

https://www.westernjournal.com/dick-morris-humas-influence-hillary-let-islamic-scholar-now-charged-with-rape-into-the-us/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=deepsix&utm_content=2018-02-16&utm_campaign=can
139  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Mass Shootings the New Manifestation of an Ancient Phenomenon on: February 16, 2018, 03:14:36 PM
http://kellybroganmd.com/mass-shootings-the-new-manifestation-of-an-ancient-phenomenon-and-their-link-to-psychiatric-drugs/
140  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / MOVED: When the excrement hits the fan, mass killings, etc on: February 16, 2018, 03:13:34 PM
This topic has been moved to Politics & Religion.

https://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=2403.0
141  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: How to cut government spending on: February 16, 2018, 02:54:43 PM
Presidents budgets are usually DOA and as such tend to contain much posturing.
142  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Legal Issues for the Mueller Trump interview on: February 16, 2018, 02:53:22 PM
https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/feb/14/trump-lawyers-resist-robert-mueller-interview-cite/
143  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Nikolas Cruz on: February 16, 2018, 02:51:13 PM
https://nypost.com/2018/02/16/deputies-called-to-suspected-shooters-home-39-times-over-seven-years/

https://www.dailywire.com/news/27207/here-are-seven-things-you-need-know-about-florida-hank-berrien?utm_medium=email&utm_content=021618-news&utm_campaign=position1

========================================

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/15/us/nikolas-cruz-florida-shooting.html?emc=edit_th_180216&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193

after a bunch of POTH snideness, we get to this:

Mr. Cruz had no criminal history before the shootings, according to state law enforcement records. But his childhood was certainly troubled.

He spent much of it in a subdivision called Pine Tree Estates, on a lush, narrow street dotted with tropical plants and the occasional driveway basketball hoop. Mr. Cruz and his brother, Zachary, had been adopted, and were raised largely by their mother, Lynda Cruz, especially after their father, Roger P. Cruz, died suddenly in 2004 at the age of 67. Ms. Cruz died in November, and people who knew Nikolas said he had taken the loss hard.

Paul Gold, 45, said he lived next door to the Cruzes in 2009 and 2010 and stayed in touch with Lynda Cruz over the years.

“He had emotional problems and I believe he was diagnosed with autism,” Mr. Gold said of Nikolas Cruz. “He had trouble controlling his temper. He broke things. He would do that sometimes at our house when he lost his temper. But he was always very apologetic afterwards.”

He added: “He would sometimes be hitting his head and covering his ears. One time, I sent him home because he was misbehaving at our house and he took a golf club and smashed one of my trailers.”

He said that Mr. Cruz at one point had gone to a school for students with special needs. “Kids were really picking on him and would gang up on him and beat him up a little,” Mr. Gold said. “They ostracized him. He didn’t have many friends.”

He said that Mr. Cruz’s mother had done what she could to take care of him, and that the two had an extremely strong bond.

“His mother was his entire life and when he lost her, I believe that was it for the boy’s peace of mind,” he said.

Other neighbors said Mr. Cruz was a regular source of agitation. Helen Pasciolla said Lynda Cruz had called sheriff’s deputies to the house numerous times in an effort to keep Mr. Cruz in line. Craig Koblitz, 62, a yacht repairman who lives across the street, said some neighbors had suspected him of burglarizing a nearby house a few years ago.

About six years ago, Mr. Koblitz returned to his home to find Mr. Cruz scooping the fish from the pond in his palm-shaded front yard. He found it odd that the boy did not seem to express much surprise or guilt over being caught stealing.

Sarah Edelsberg, 16, remembered being frightened by Mr. Cruz when they were in middle school together. Mr. Cruz would walk by her and her friends and shout at them — randomly and menacingly, she said, with wild gestures of his arms.

She said he was small of build, wore a constant smirk and seemed eager to provoke confrontations. Teachers, she said, sometimes dealt with his behavior problems by forcing him to sit outside their portable classrooms.

The authorities said Mr. Cruz was expelled from Stoneman Douglas last year. Victoria Olvera, a 17-year-old junior, told The Associated Press that Mr. Cruz had gotten into a fight with his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend.

But Michael Goldfarb, whose 17-year-old son Bradley knew Mr. Cruz, said his son had told him Mr. Cruz was expelled for having a knife at school.

Last year, Mr. Goldfarb said, his son went on a three-day trip to a cabin in the Everglades with other young men, including Mr. Cruz. They were accompanied by a parent who owned the cabin.

Shooting weapons was a big part of the trip’s allure. There were two AR-15s on the trip, and Mr. Cruz brought one of them.

He bragged about how he had bought it from a pawnshop, Mr. Goldfarb said, speaking for his son. (The authorities said the gun had been legally purchased from a gun shop.)

The YouTube comment appeared last fall on the channel of Ben Bennight, a bail bondsman in Mississippi.

“I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” the Sept. 24 comment said, under the user name “nikolas cruz.”

Mr. Bennight took a screenshot and flagged it to YouTube, which removed the post. Then, Mr. Bennight said, he left a voice mail message at his local F.B.I. office alerting them about the comment.

Mr. Bennight, 36, said on Thursday that a pair of agents interviewed him the next morning. But the F.B.I. never learned who posted the comment.

“No other information was included in the comment which would indicate a particular time, location, or the true identity of the person who posted the comment,” the F.B.I. said in a statement on Thursday. The F.B.I. said it had conducted database reviews and other checks.

After his expulsion, Mr. Cruz took a job at a dollar store near his old school. Ms. Edelsberg said she had seen him there a number of times. Now, she said, he seemed less scary than friendly. He asked her for news from Stoneman Douglas.

On Thursday, Jordan Jereb, a leader of a white supremacist group based in North Florida, told The Associated Press that Mr. Cruz had joined the group, but later Mr. Jereb said that he did not know whether that was true.

The family of another schoolmate, the Snead family, took in Mr. Cruz because his friend felt badly that Mr. Cruz was now alone in the world, said Jim Lewis, a lawyer for the family. The Sneads had allowed Mr. Cruz to bring his gun with him to their house, insisting that he keep it in a lockbox.

On weekday mornings, Mr. Cruz usually got up to catch a ride to adult education courses that the Sneads had encouraged him to attend. But on Wednesday, he refused to get up, Mr. Lewis said.

Mr. Lewis said Mr. Cruz had said something to the effect of: “I don’t go to school on Valentine’s Day.”

Howard Finkelstein, the chief public defender in Broward County, said in an interview that Mr. Cruz’s legal team had not yet decided whether to mount an insanity defense. Prosecutors have not said whether they will seek the death penalty, but Mr. Finkelstein argued that Mr. Cruz should not be a candidate for execution, given his mental health history.

“Every red flag was there and nobody did anything,” Mr. Finkelstein said. “When we let one of our children fall off grid, when they are screaming for help in every way, do we have the right to kill them when we could have stopped it?”

On Wednesday, Mr. Cruz and the Sneads’ son were texting until 2:18 p.m., Mr. Lewis said — about five minutes before the first 911 calls about the shooting.

“But there was nothing crazy in the texts,” Mr. Lewis said.

Mr. Cruz arrived at the school in a small, gold-colored Uber, according to the booking report from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. He was wearing a black hat, with a black duffel and a black backpack.

Within a minute there were gunshots.

Later, in custody, Mr. Cruz told investigators that “he was the gunman who entered the school campus armed with an AR-15 and began shooting students that he saw in the hallways and on the school grounds,” the report said.

The police would find him an hour later in the nearby city of Coral Springs. In the report, Mr. Cruz said he had slipped away from the campus by ditching the gun and the extra magazines he brought along, joining the crowd of worried students fleeing the school.

Unarmed and anonymous, Mr. Cruz, finally, had blended in among them.
144  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / No Sex Marriage on: February 16, 2018, 02:44:05 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVgzOyHVcj4
145  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / San Ramon CA high school bans national anthem on: February 16, 2018, 02:30:37 PM
https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/feb/13/san-ramon-california-high-school-bans-racist-natio/?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTURFMk16YzNPRFU0TWpnMSIsInQiOiIzNTNFUmVHQU1OdUlnc09ta2lYYVMyNUNKb25PUlUzNUNFY1hTQnY3clJCcTFkQnQ1a09YKzVaS2tRa2ZBcjh6ZkpkQ3dnOWVrMEtSXC9teTloVE82RzRCaUx4WE9QOVl4S05jZXpmZ1dDNktyYkc2WFlGTE1uY1NzXC9Ta0tXMTk2In0%3D
146  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Some disconcerting kernels of plausibility in this on: February 16, 2018, 02:10:19 PM
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/02/theres-a-good-chance-president-trump-is-being-blackmailed.html
147  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / AEI: Israel, and the coming war with Iran on: February 16, 2018, 11:28:18 AM


    Danielle Pletka @dpletka

February 15, 2018 12:16 pm | AEIdeas
What’s new in foreign and defense policy

Give ‘maximum pressure’ a chance

The coming conflict between Iran and Israel


Last Friday night, the Iranian military crossed into Israel using a drone launched from a Syrian base. It’s not clear whether the UAV was armed or not, but it was likely a Saeqeh model based on designs reverse engineered from a downed US model.

Fragments of a Syrian anti-aircraft missile found in Alonei Abba, about 2 miles (3.2 km) from where the remains of a crashed F-16 Israeli war plane were found, at the village of Alonei Abba, Israel February 10, 2018. REUTERS/ Ronen Zvulun

Israel retaliated by striking the Tiyas air base from which the UAV was being controlled, prompting the launch of several volleys of anti-aircraft missiles which brought down an Israeli F-16I craft over Israeli territory. (The two pilots ejected.) Israel returned fire with a major air incursion into Syria, striking Iranian and Syrian targets.

This is a significant escalation on the part of the Iranians, and comes on the heels of the visit to Lebanon and Syria of a senior Iranian cleric, Ayatollah Sayyed Ibrahim Raisi, to the border with Israel. (Raisi is among those in contention to take over as Supreme Leader when Khamenei dies.) And for the Israelis, it sharpens the challenge they face with not just Hezbollah, the Iranian controlled terrorist group on its borders in Lebanon, but now a substantial Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) presence in Syria as well.

Israel has not been idly watching as Iran builds up its proxies in Syria and Lebanon. The IDF has hit Syria repeatedly, taking out shipments from Iran designed to up Iran’s proxy capabilities. But plenty has also happened without Israeli action, including new missile factories on Lebanese soil and a continued major build-up that will mean that when the next confrontation happens, it will be large, ugly, and with substantial collateral damage.

The steady escalation by Iran on Israel’s border belies the notion that Tehran is feeling any heat from the departure of the more pro-Iran Barack Obama and the arrival of Donald Trump, with his pledge to take the Iranian threat more seriously. Rather, Iran has continued to cut a wide swath throughout the Middle East, destabilizing the Iraqi government, continuing to cooperate with Russia in their campaign to restore Bashar al Assad to power in Syria, marching apace through Yemen via their proxy Houthi government, and, of course, consolidating their growing dominion over Lebanon.

I’ve written about Iran’s tightening grip on Beirut, only helped by the recent bizarre detention of Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Riyadh. But the US government appears determined to ignore the Lebanese Armed Forces’ increasingly obvious cooperation with Hezbollah, as well as Hezbollah’s swelling arsenal throughout Lebanese territory.

Somehow, both Centcom and the State Department have persuaded themselves, despite ample evidence to the contrary, that Lebanon is somehow independent despite massive Iranian infiltration through Hezbollah. And even though Treasury officials have cottoned on to Hezbollah/Iran’s financial shenanigans ongoing in the Lebanese banking system, a stealthily passed add on to Lebanese election law now insulates all targeted parties from the effects of sanctions, anteing up Lebanese government cash to rescue any political party subject to financial action.

How does this all end? Simple. The United States has not availed itself of sufficient soft or hard power options vis a vis Iran in Syria, Yemen, or anywhere else in the region. Iran is rising inexorably, and inevitably, at least for Israel, there will be no choice but conflict.
148  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Harvard Economist & Obama Chairman of Council of Economic Advisors on: February 16, 2018, 04:15:47 AM
As Boomers Go Gray, Even 2% Growth Will Be Hard to Sustain
Hoping for 3% or more is folly. The fundamentals—people and productivity—seem unlikely to provide it.
By Jason Furman
Feb. 14, 2018 6:58 p.m. ET
53 COMMENTS

Most of what was good in the American economy last year was unsustainable, and most of what was sustainable was not good. A decade after the financial crisis, there is still no sign the economy can generate the consistent growth of 3% a year many continue to hope for. The growth rate for 2017 was just 2.5%, and even that seems unlikely to last. Is this the new normal?

Not exactly. Instead it’s a return to the old normal, a reversion that was widely expected after baby boomers began to retire. While policy makers should do what they can to increase the economy’s long-run growth rate, they also need to avoid making decisions based on unrealistic expectations.
As Boomers Go Gray, Even 2% Growth Will Be Hard to Sustain
Photo: iStock/Getty Images

Economic growth comes from two sources. First is a cyclical rebound in demand as the economy gets closer to full capacity (or even proceeds beyond it). Second is an increase in the economy’s underlying potential output—also called the supply side—driven by growth in either the workforce or productivity.

The trouble is that more than half of last year’s economic growth came from the cyclical factors, which have little left to contribute given that we’re at or near full employment. What this means is that absent much bigger productivity improvements, it will be a challenge for the U.S. to achieve sustained economic growth of even 2%.

The stock market’s recent travails provide a vivid illustration of unsustainable growth. Last year the market went up 19%, which boosted consumer spending through a wealth effect. This surge in consumption probably accounted for about 0.75 percentage point of the growth in gross domestic product. For four straight years, consumer spending has risen faster than GDP, causing the personal-savings rate to drop to 2.4%—nearly the lowest on record.

Now a market correction has happened, and even with their recent rebound stocks are still 6% off their highs, as of close on Wednesday. Whatever may happen in the market, it’s sobering to listen to the people arguing that stocks are correctly valued. The theory that today’s high price/earnings ratios are justified—meaning it simply has become more expensive to buy a given return—implies lower earnings going forward. That, too, would undercut the consumption-fueled growth the U.S. has been enjoying, leaving households vulnerable after the past several years in which they took on increased debt and reduced their personal savings.

–– ADVERTISEMENT ––
thanks for watching!

Another unsustainable boost to the economy has been the falling dollar. Last year the dollar’s effective exchange rate—a measure that compares the dollar against a basket of currencies weighted by trade volume—fell 7%. Although the U.S. pursued a de facto strong-dollar policy through higher interest rates and larger budget deficits, this was more than offset by unexpectedly strong global growth. The weak dollar helped roughly stabilize the trade deficit, meaning net exports only subtracted 0.1 percentage point from GDP growth in 2017, compared with an average of 0.5 point a year from 2013-16.

The momentum in GDP growth could continue into 2018, especially given that tax cuts and the recent spending bill will provide about $250 billion in new demand-side fiscal stimulus this year. The unemployment rate, now 4.1%, could fall into the 3% range, a welcome development. Lagging benefits from the weakening of the dollar may arrive. Beyond 2018, however, these factors will begin to lose their force, especially since the Federal Reserve is sure to raise interest rates to offset any additional fiscal stimulus. More important, while predictions about markets are uncertain, it is a mathematical fact that the unemployment rate cannot indefinitely fall by 0.6 percentage point a year, as it did in 2017.

Growth will therefore have to come from the supply side. But a bigger workforce is an unlikely candidate. Assuming that current immigration rates continue and that employment rates by age are stable, the workforce will expand by 0.5 percentage point a year over the next decade. It is theoretically possible that people out of the workforce today could return. Betting on this, though, would be imprudent, given the steady decline in labor-force participation for men since the 1950s and for women since around 2000.

That leaves productivity growth, which is even less certain. The statistics usually reported exclude farms and the government, meaning they cover only a faster-growing subset of businesses. Instead let’s look at economywide productivity, which is what’s relevant for predicting overall economic growth. In 2017 economywide productivity increased 0.9%, slightly below its 1% annual pace over the past decade. If that average rate continues, overall economic growth in coming years will average only 1.5%. But maybe the productivity figure for 2007-17 is too pessimistic, reflecting a combination of fallout from the global financial crisis and bad luck. In that case we might look to the average economywide productivity growth of the past 50 years, 1.6%. That would push the baseline for overall growth to 2.1%.

Actual growth over the next five or 10 years could vary from this range of 1.5% to 2.1%, but there is little basis for a forecast that diverges significantly. As an analogy, imagine you’re asked to predict the high temperature in Boston on Christmas Day. You might say 43 degrees (the average over the past decade) or 40 degrees (the average over the past 50 years). It could well end up being 20 degrees or 60 degrees, but those would be foolish predictions.

Slower growth is less the fault of President Trump than of his generation. Mr. Trump, born in 1946, was in the first wave of boomers. Forty percent of the people born that year have left the workforce. This was predictable, which is why in 2005 the Social Security Trustees projected that the economy would grow 1.8% a year from 2020-30. If anything, additional data since then would lead us to revise that forecast down. Americans simply have forgotten this basic reality. To the degree that policy and business decisions are based on false hopes for much higher growth, the result can only be dashed expectations.

Mr. Furman, a professor of practice at the Harvard Kennedy School, was chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, 2013-17.

Appeared in the February 15, 2018, print edition.
149  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: North and South Korea on: February 15, 2018, 11:43:14 PM
Thank you for fleshing out the content of the prior post  wink
150  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (gun and knife rights stuff ) on: February 15, 2018, 11:42:23 PM
Please post those here as well:  https://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1135.0
Pages: 1 2 [3] 4 5 ... 850
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!